Sun Safety: Is Your Sunscreen Protecting You?

About 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, making it the most common form of cancer in the country. Skin cancer develops from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or artificial tanning beds.

Oswald Mikell, MD, and our team at Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry specialize in diagnosing and treating skin cancer. Although it’s the most common type of cancer, there are ways to protect yourself while still enjoying your favorite outdoor activities. In fact, regularly applying sunscreen decreases your risk of getting skin cancer by up to 50%.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and we’re spreading the word by taking a closer look at sunscreen. Is your sunscreen doing enough to protect your skin? And what else can you do to reduce your risk of getting skin cancer? In this blog, we discuss what you can do to protect yourself.

Getting the most out of your sunscreen

Sunscreen blocks harmful UV rays from damaging your skin. When used correctly and applied regularly, sunscreen reduces your risk of developing skin cancer and helps prevent premature skin aging from sun damage.

 

Everyone over the age of six months should wear sunscreen every day, regardless of their skin tone. Babies under six months have very sensitive skin, and they should wear sun-protective clothing and stay in the shade. 

What to look for in sunscreen

Some sunscreens are better than others. For the best in sun protection, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, meaning it blocks UVA and UVB rays. Furthermore, look for a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. If you’re planning to be in the sun all day, choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

If you’re going to be swimming or sweating excessively, use a water-resistant sunscreen. While no sunscreen is completely waterproof, water-resistant sunscreens are meant to last longer in wet conditions.

Reapply your sunscreen regularly. Sunscreens will lose their efficacy over time. And, if it’s cloudy outdoors, that doesn’t mean you can put away the sunscreen. You should put it on then, too.

How to apply sunscreen

Apply your sunscreen about 30 minutes before you go outside, because it takes some time for the product to absorb into your skin. After your initial application, reapply it every two hours or more frequently if your skin is getting wet.

Use about one ounce of sunscreen over your whole body. Be sure to apply it to all your exposed skin, and don’t miss those easy-to-forget spots, such as the tops of your ears and the backs of your hands. 

Going beyond sunscreen to protect your skin

Clothing can shield your skin from the sun, particularly if you wear clothes with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), which can block even more UV light. Consider wearing lightweight pants and long sleeves to protect yourself from the sun.

A wide-brimmed hat will protect your neck, ears, and face. Wearing a hat is particularly important if you’re bald or your hair is short and thin, because it will block rays from reaching your scalp. And don’t forget your eyes. Wear sunglasses with UV-blocking lenses to protect your eyes and the skin around them.

The sun is the strongest between the hours of 10am-4pm. To minimize exposure, stay inside or stick to shady areas in the middle of the day. Find shade under trees, umbrellas, and porches to enjoy the great outdoors while protecting your skin.

By taking these steps, you can help keep your skin healthy for years to come.

To learn more about treating or preventing skin cancer, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

You Don’t Have to Live with Crow's Feet

Have you noticed pesky crow’s feet around your eyes? Everyone gets them as they age, but if these signs of aging bother you, it’s time to learn more about Botox® Cosmetic. It’s an effective crow’s feet treatment, and it could be an option for you.

Understanding the Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is very common, but different types of cancer can look different. Take the time to understand the three most common types of skin cancer, so you can protect your skin and your health.

Is Your Medication Causing Your Rosacea?

Rosacea is a common skin condition that can make your facial blood vessels look large and your cheeks look flush. While it can be triggered by environmental factors, such as the sun and wind, some prescription medications can cause it, too.

Using Light Therapy to Treat Your Eczema

Eczema makes skin itchy, dry, and inflamed. There are lots of treatment options to try, but if your eczema is persistent, light therapy could be the answer. Learn how light therapy for eczema works.

Summertime Tips When You Have Psoriasis

Does warm weather have you worrying about psoriasis flare-ups? Psoriasis plaques are dry and uncomfortable, but sunshine and saltwater could actually improve your skin. Read on to learn how you can keep your skin happy this summer.

Look for These 5 Common Signs of Vitiligo

Vitiligo makes skin lose its natural pigment. Areas of light or white skin might be the most obvious sign, but it’s not the only one. Look for these signs of vitiligo and find out how having it could affect more than just your skin.